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Speaking at the Upfront Summit venture capital conference on Wednesday, GOAT Group chief operating officer Yunah Lee said international expansion is now the priority for the Culver City-based startup. GOAT opened offices in mainland China last year—its headcount there has already quadrupled, she noted—and also recently cut the ribbon on offices in Singapore and Japan.
Having sold $2 billion in merchandise on its platform in 2020 and doubled its valuation to $3.7 billion last year, GOAT now has 1,500 employees and 16 offices globally.
GOAT Group chief operating officer Yunah Lee speaking at the Upfront Summit.
Courtesy of GOAT
“We want to continue to focus on our international expansion in western Europe, southeast Asia and eastern Asia, and also continue to focus on our luxury fashion, apparel and accessories categories,” Lee said.
The COO mentioned that part of GOAT’s motivation for international expansion is to serve a diverse worldwide customer base that has different tastes depending on where they’re from. In Europe, she noted, many buyers don’t wear high-top shoes—whereas in the U.S., it’s virtually impossible to call yourself a sneakerhead without a pair of classic Air Jordan 1s. The Middle East, she added, is developing an insatiable appetite for Kanye West’s Yeezy shoe line.
Having a diverse customer base “allows us to create that global buyer-and-seller network to bring the products that these folks don't have access to easily,” Lee said. Geographic diversity is also key to courting luxury brands like Versace, Alexander McQueen and Polo Ralph Lauren, which are increasingly looking to outlets like GOAT as valuable resale marketplaces and have courted it for merchandise partnerships.
Launched in 2015 as a way for co-founder and CEO Eddy Lu and his college friends to authenticate real Air Jordans apart from fake ones, GOAT is now one of the hottest startups in Los Angeles, according to a recent dot.LA survey of venture capitalists. The company landed a $195 million funding round led by Park West Asset Management last June and has raised some $493 million to date, according to PitchBook data.
According to a recent study from Cowen, the sneaker and streetwear resale market is growing 20% annually and is estimated to surpass $30 billion in global sales by 2030.
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